Sam Berns: Funeral held for inspirational teenager with an ageing disorder

Well-wishers queued outside to pay their respects at the temple where the 17-year-old was laid to rest

17-year-old Sam Berns, who lived with a rare genetic condition that accelerates the ageing process, has been laid to rest in his home-city of Boston, US.

Berns died on Friday after complications from Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, commonly known as progeria. His death was confirmed by the Progeria Research Foundation, that was established by his parents.

A private funeral was held on Tuesday morning at Temple Israel in Sharon, Massachusetts.

The temple’s car park filled up quickly and a large line of people wanting to pay their respects to Berns formed outside, according to local news outlet Foxborough Patch

Diagnosed with progeria at 22 months, Berns outlived the 13-years expected for suffers of the disease.

Those with the condition experience musculoskeletal degeneration, cardiovascular problems and other symptoms associated with ageing.

His parents, doctors Leslie Gordon and Scott Berns, founded their non-profit organisation to provide more information and research on the condition which is little understood.

Their work was featured in the US documentary Life According to Sam, which brought greater attention to the condition.

 

However, the teenager did not let the disease define him, and encouraged others to live with a positive mentality, something he stressed during his talk at the TEDxMidAtlantic conference last autumn. 

He told the audience that while he was promoting his programme he was asked by a journalist: “What is the most important thing people should know about you?” to which he replied “I have a very happy life.”

“Even though there are many obstacles in my life, with a lot of them being created by progeria, I don’t want people to feel bad for me. I don’t think about these obstacles all the time and I’m able to overcome most of them anyway,” he said.

He concluded the talk by saying: “All in all I don’t waste energy feeling bad for myself, I surround myself with people that I want to be with, and I keep moving forward.

"So with this philoshopy I hope that all of you, regardless of your obstacles, can have a very happy life as well.”

Owner of the New England Patriots American football team, Robert Kraft, mourned Berns’ death.

He said that he had invited the teen to be the team's honorary captain for Saturday night’s playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts and was looking forward to spending time with the teenager and his family.

“I loved Sam Berns and am richer for having known him,” Kraft said in a statement on Saturday.

Berns, a sports fan who was invited to a Patriots practice in October, gave the players an impromptu motivational speech, the Boston Globe reported.

When asked to name his favorite player, he said he didn't have one because it takes a team to succeed.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003